During my pregnancy, my uterus was found to be rapidly developing fibroids, so my ob/gyn informed me that I was going to need to have a c-section. My fibroids became so large that it was a shock to him, seasoned though he was, when he found one in front of my birth canal that he had thought was my son’s head. Besides the necessarily larger incision, my recovery was longer and more difficult due to having general instead of regional anesthesia.
I didn’t know what to expect after the c-section since no one told me. May the information below help ease your own recovery.
- Sore throat and painful urination. Having things stuck in you where they don’t belong has consequences (if only for a short time). With general anesthesia, a tube will be placed in your throat to ensure proper breathing, so a sore throat is common. Also, having a catheter can make later urination difficult, and a mild infection may result.
- Very painful shoulder. Shoulder pain is caused by one of two things (or both). One, it may actually be from your uterus, a type of shadow pain called “referred pain.” Two, built-up gas pushing up on the diaphragm can cause intense shoulder pain. For me, the pain was so piercing that it made it very very hard to get up and out of bed.
- Gas and listless bowels. Compared to having general anesthesia, regional reduces the amount of gas build-up since you can walk relatively quickly after the surgery. This is important in getting the bowels to start working properly again. With general anesthesia, however, your bowels will not only be quite unresponsive, but so will you. The side effects of strong pain relievers will make it harder to get up and walk around as soon as you should. Yet, it’s important to get up and walk as soon as possible. You should not eat until you’ve passed the built-up gas.
- Slower recovery and nursing. Having regional anesthesia will allow you to nurse your baby soon after birth, and you should do so within one hour. But with general anesthesia it is unlikely that you will be able to nurse very soon. Since a lot of time had passed between birth and nursing, I (and my son) had great difficulty with this; I highly recommend that you have helpful people with you and that you talk with an in-hospital lactating consultant as soon as possible.
- Incision pain and stitches. When breastfeeding, contractions occur that may cause the incision to hurt, so maintain your pain medication as long as you need it. Laughing and coughing will be painful for a while, but applying pressure to the incision area can help. Be assured that the stitches are very strong and there is no need to worry that you’ll just pop open! Nevertheless, it is advised not to lift anything heavier than your baby for at least three weeks.